Our relationship with death is influenced by many things, but culture and religion seem to predominate.

Yesterday while listening to BBC Radio4, I caught the end of Kate Adie’s programme ‘A Poisonous Cocktail’, which features reports from various correspondents around the world. The tail end I caught contained a report from Will Grant in Mexico.

Grant was recently in Mexico, during Halloween, a time which specifically highlights the relationship that Mexican people have with death, and with the dead. They mourn the loss of those who have died, but they also choose to celebrate their lives, with a national annual two day festival, which coincides with our Halloween.

The festival combines All Souls Day, All Saints Day and the indigenous rituals of the Day of the Dead, thus rooted both in a religious and a cultural heritage.

On day 1, altars and specific artefacts that evoke the memory of loved ones, to ‘help them on their way’, are on display throughout the country.

On day 2, the celebrations move to cemeteries, where candles are lit, and partying begins, literally dancing on the tombs of the dead, their way of saying goodbye.

Thus, in Mexico death is an integral part of the lives of the living. Children are aware from an early age that death is inevitable, and loss is simultaneously mourned and celebrated. The spirits and souls of those who have died are sent off into the unknown openly, with an embrace, and with love.

CQ

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